Transport Minister Khaw boon Wan has finally broken his silence on the first ever flooding of an MRT line in Singapore.
This comes a week after a pump problem on Saturday (7 Oct) caused Bishan MRT station to flood and disrupted the North-South Line train service for 21 hours.
Mr Khaw blamed the flooding squarely on poor maintenance, saying that the flood system is sound.
“The Bishan flooding system was designed for one in a hundred years. So our study, which is still ongoing, is ‘Are you sure that is adequate?’ But for the incident that happened on October 7, it is much more than adequate, nothing to do with these extremes of weathers – it is just poor maintenance.”
Mr Khaw also said that the incident has “pushed back the recovery of public confidence” in the MRT system, which has been plagued by an increasing number of disruptions over the years.
“Whatever follow-up action which needs to be done, has already started. Nothing has been covered up.”
Rain gathered in Bishan MRT station, leading to the underground tunnel leading to Newton station to be submerged up to waist level.
SMRT had to cut off trackside power supply as a safety precaution, causing service on six stops across the NSL to be disabled for about 20 hours.
More than a quarter of a million commuters were affected.
Mr Khaw explained that the “anti-flooding system there was poorly maintained” and that caused rainwater to accumulate.
He said that the Land Transport Authority and SMRT had made a decision to replace the pumps on 29 Sept, but had not implemented the changes yet.
“So we are late by a few days. Had they proceeded to replace (the pumps) this thing might not even have happened. But I suppose that is life.”